Barcelona, Leagues, Spanish Primera División, Story, Transfers



Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has told ESPN he expects new faces to join the club this summer as they look to build on a domestic double by ending Real Madrid’s domination in the Champions League next season.

Despite winning La Liga and the Copa del Rey, Bartomeu said there are plans in motion to improve Ernesto Valverde’s squad as Antoine Griezmann continues to be linked with a move to Camp Nou.

“Of course, next season’s [new] project always means there will be new faces, I’m sure,” Bartomeu said. “And other faces will leave the club as well. That’s what happens every summer.

“We always try to bring in more talent, better talent so that the team is better than the previous season. I cannot name any names because I think negotiations should be private, but, of course, there are different positions where we can do better next season.”

Barca’s public pursuit of Griezmann has drawn the ire of Atletico Madrid, who have criticised the Catalan club’s “inappropriate conduct” in their attempts to sign the French forward.

Griezmann, whose release clause drops to €100 million on July 1, has said he will make an announcement before this summer’s World Cup in Russia about where he will play his football next season.

As well as Griezmann, Barca have also been strongly linked with Sevilla centre-back Clement Lenglet, whose release clause is thought to be between €30m and €40m. But while the club will sign players from outside, Bartomeu also says this summer will see at least one player from the academy promoted to the first team — expected to be Barca B’s Carles Alena, who will become the first player since Sergi Roberto to make the step up.

“The club is always trying to develop talent through La Masia,” the president added. “Of course this talent has to come up and explode, if possible, in the [first] team. But this is not so easy.

“When you have players like Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta and [Carles] Puyol, all players that [were here for] a lot of time being the No. 1 on the team. So, for the young players coming up, it’s quite difficult to try to take out players like Puyol, Xavi or Iniesta.

“Now, there is an opportunity. After a few years, a lot of the big players are not at the club, so there’s an opportunity for young players in our B team or in our junior teams to come up and take their place.

“This is a challenge not only for the club but for the players. We have a generation coming [through] with a very powerful energy, they are coming with a lot of talent. Those players will come up to the first team.

“And if this year everything continues the same, one or two — well, one for sure but maybe two players — will come up to the first team. Now it’s time for new ones [to come through] because there is space in the first team.”

Bartomeu denied that this summer’s activity will be influenced by watching rivals Madrid win a third consecutive Champions League trophy in Kiev last month — their fourth in five years and the 13th in their history.

“No, no, no, not at all,” he said when asked if Madrid’s success put more pressure on Barca in the transfer market. “We [focus on] our own strategy. We have our way of thinking [about] how the team should be better and better every year. We don’t look at our rivals, we look inside our club and inside our team.

“This season we spent a lot of money. We made good investments on players. [Ousmane] Dembele and [Philippe] Coutinho were very big investments. But you have to think that we’re coming from last August when we received €222m from Paris Saint-Germain [for Neymar].

“That is a lot of money for a player. They paid the buyout clause. And that money doesn’t come from the football industry. That money comes from other types of activities. That’s why receiving this money, while it was enormous, what we did was simply [spend] €105m on Dembele and €120m on Coutinho.”

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.



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